Jenny Wasson / The Bulletin

Before cooking shows were a dime a dozen, and before Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child were household names, noted Oregonian James Beard stood alone.

Born in Portland, Beard hosted the nation’s first cooking show in 1946 and penned more than 20 cookbooks during his lifetime. Today, the James Beard Award is the highest honor given to food and beverage professionals, according to a news release.

The Portland Center Stage will celebrate Beard’s life and legacy with its new production, “I Love to Eat.” The play runs Jan. 8-Feb. 3 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory in Portland.

Written by James Still, the one-man show recreates an evening at Beard’s famous New York home.

“I love that (James Beard) had an electric kitchen, that he hated cooking with gas,” said Still in an interview on the James Beard Foundation website. “I love that in a creative pinch he could cook up something delicious with a clothes iron. But I was also surprised by his openness to strangers, taking phone calls from people in culinary distress and talking them through a crisis. He was many things to many people — and that was probably both his gift and his mystery.”

Starring Rob Nagle, the Portland production runs approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.

Ticket prices range from $34 to $65, depending on day of performance and seat location. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit or contact 503-445-3700.